A follow-up meeting will be taking place in Windhoek on September 16 for the participants to proceed from where they left off at the first meeting on August 19 in the capital, which brought together more than 100 part-time farmers working in Windhoek.
The meeting was the initiative of veteran farmer Albert Tjihero and aimed to bring together farmers to brainstorm on the envisaged Second National Land Conference scheduled towards the end of next month.
Tjihero viewed the first meeting as a success and reiterated his position that those attending the meeting need not have similar views on the land question, but that it is important for farmers to express their views on the land issue for the benefit of those who are going to attend the Second National Land Conference as delegates.
He also reiterated that the meeting does not belong to any particular organisation, but is meant to enlist the concerns of farmers, so that their concerns can be taken to the envisaged Second National Land Conference by delegates to that highly anticipated conference.
Tjihero says one important outcome of the August 19 meeting was the absolute need for the farmers to be appraised of the agenda of the envisaged conference before the next meeting on September 16, as well as other relevant documents pertaining to it.
Expressing his satisfaction with the turnout, although he would have liked to see more people attend, as well as the constructive inputs voiced by those who attended, Tjihero was nevertheless disappointed with the absence of traditional leaders from the meeting.
The absence of traditional leaders from the said meeting may be understandable in view of the fact most of them are based in communal areas, it was noted.
Those at the August 19 meeting raised various questions, such as how the Namibian government could be trusted with funds that have reportedly been promised by the German government for the acquisition of land for distribution to the descendants of the Ovaherero and Nama.
A need was also identified for unity among the landless and dispossessed and for them to speak with one voice before the planned land conference. A challenge was put to political parties, such as the DTA, SWANU and the National Unity Democratic Organisation (NUDO) to for once harness their collective powers and energies to ensure a common position on the vexed question of land and to speak with one voice.
The question of what platform the political parties should use to prepare for the land conference to ensure the concerns of their constituencies – especially the Otjiherero-speaking constituency – are heard, remains the biggest challenge to the said parties about a month before the envisaged Second National Land Conference in September.
This is if the conference goes ahead as scheduled, as there have been media reports of a possible postponement due to an apparent lack of preparation for the conference by the Ministry of Land Reform responsible for its organisation.
Concerns were also raised at the August 19 meeting on how the landless and land dispossessed are going to be represented at the planned conference in view of the seeming fragmented positions on the question of land, as represented by various splinter organisations?
Another pertinent concern was how land redistribution – especially expropriation – would be viable, given the entrenched property rights enshrined in the Namibian Constitution. The interchangeable use of terms, such as settlement and resettlement, was also a matter of concern to some.
The suspicion that government had swept the issue of ancestral land under the rug since the conclusion of the First National Land Conference in 1991 was also widely held.
With about only a month or less to go before the Second National Land Conference, attendants felt that many issues still remain unclear, foremost its agenda. Even the chairmanship of the envisaged conference was in question in view of the presumed non-partisanship of the government on the land issue, with some accusing government of having already positioned itself on the land question.